Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek is one of the 218 public middle and high schools that was named a 2013 California Distinguished School.

"The 2013 California Distinguished Schools Program directly focuses on the right of California's students to an equitable and rigorous education, and recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap," according to a news release.

Distinguished schools must meet a variety of criteria, including accountability measures. The application process is extensive with a county-led site validation review.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the schools show a strong commitment and innovative approach to improving student academic achievement.

"These schools have gone the extra mile to provide high-quality instruction that puts their students on the right path toward career and college," he said in a news release.

"Given the enormous challenges schools have faced in recent years, it is inspiring to see this kind of success in so many schools. Our future depends on meeting the needs of every student no matter where they come from or where they live."

Those selected as California Distinguished Schools will be honored in May during regional award ceremonies where Torlakson will present each school with a 2013 Distinguished School plaque and flag.

"Schools earning the distinguished school title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and become a mentor to those seeking to replicate their work," according to the release.


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    In an effort to ensure community members are safe getting to and from school, the Walnut Creek School District has teamed with 511 Contra Costa to have traffic safety assemblies at the elementary schools this year, and commute alternate programs at Walnut Creek Intermediate.

    "Now we want to hear what you think about driving, biking, and walking to school," reads an e-mail alert from Superintendent Patty Wool.

    "This community feedback will be used to help guide future projects to make our campuses safer. We know that your insight is invaluable in this process and ask your help in identifying issues we can help correct."

    District officials ask that each parent take a five-minute survey by going to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wcsdparentsurvey.

    To sweeten the pot, the school that has the highest percentage of responses will receive a $500 prize from 511 Contra Costa and one parent will get an iPad Mini.

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    On Friday May 3, start your weekend with an evening of cutting-edge music.

    Jazz bands from Northgate High School and other selected schools will perform at the 4th annual Jazzschool High School Invitational, held at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley.

    The event is free. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the performance at 8 p.m. For information, visit www.thefreight.org.

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    Ygnacio Valley High School spring musical "Guys and Dolls" continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, with two shows on at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

    Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students for the night performance, and $8 adults and $5 students for the matinees.

    The show is directed by Tracey Garber, choreographed by Kelly Cooper, and musical direction is by Geoff Carter.

    To submit an item for School Notes, contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.